Agriculture ministers from 13 Caribbean countries discussed strategies on Friday in the search to strengthen agricultural activity and guarantee food supplies, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), based in Costa Rica, indicated that it held a videoconference with the ministers to analyze the situation in the Caribbean, a region highly dependent on tourism and food imports.
“We are going to work with the Caribbean countries on ambitious proposals to generate a new extension strategy based on online systems and the use of cellular telephony, as well as encouraging horizontal cooperation between key countries that allow building bridges and taking advantage of existing complementarities. “IICA Director General Manuel Otero said in a statement.
The ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago participated in the videoconference this Friday.
“The most important role we can play is to inspire and motivate others. COVID-19 is one of those defining tragedies from which we will recover. If we unite regionally and nationally, we can inspire our people, ”said Bahamas Minister of Marine Resources and Agriculture Michael Pintard.
One of the main challenges facing Caribbean countries is to keep food imports active at a time of great stress in global trade.
IICA data indicates that, for example, Barbados imports 80% of the food it consumes; Jamaica and Guyana have serious problems in storing food overproduction after the closure of borders and the fall of tourism, a vital industry for the regional economy and to which most of what is produced locally is normally destined.
Added to this is a moment of drought in the region, which raises the urgent need for the agricultural sector to increase resilience to climate variability and incorporate technologies, explained IICA.
The Director General of IICA also asked the Ministers of Agriculture of the Caribbean countries to incorporate international financial entities in upcoming virtual meetings, as part of their strategy to integrate efforts to ensure food during the current pandemic and once it is overcome. .
The Institute explained that as part of its actions against the coronavirus, it conducts direct dialogues with the ministers of Agriculture of America to exchange useful information for decision-making on food security.
In addition, the entity provides virtual training in good agricultural and sanitary practices for rural workers.